A 1955 MG TF 1500.
A 1955 MG TF 1500. APN

MG a challenge to drive

CARS these days have become ludicrously simple to drive, which is a large part of the appeal of owning and piloting a classic vehicle for a truer connection with the road.

Take Mark Parker's 1955 MG TF 1500 for instance. The TF was the final installment of MG's T-Series range, meaning it was using similar technology to the TA model that first rolled off the production line in 1936: nearly 75 years ago.

“I had to get used to its idiosyncrasies as it's quite a difficult thing to drive,” Mark said. “There's no synchro on first gear, no power anything and its stopping abilities are completely different to a modern car.”

Car enthusiasm has run in Mark's family for a long time, with his father, uncle and sister all having petrol in their veins for as long as he can remember.

“I've owned an XP Fairmont, Capri GT, Phase III Falcon GTHO, XA GT, Fairlane 351 and a BMW 320i, but the MG TF really appealed to me,” said the Kawana Island local.

“I went to the Stockland Lions Club Car Show, met someone who had the car for sale, fell in love with it and bought it a few months later. I thought it would be a great way to spend more time together with my wife Lynn.”

Now on the committee of the MG Car Club Sunshine Coast, Mark and Lynn enjoy the social scene and excellent drives that are part of club life.

Due to the awkward pedal position in the TF, however, Lynn has not been able to drive the 1955 classic. She's remedied this by now owning a 1972 MGB Roadster used as a daily drive and on club runs, and the two bright red Brits make for a striking pair in the garage.

Mark admits the MGB is much better at cornering than his far older TF 1500, but finds its challenging nature all part of the vintage MG experience.

“It is great on the country roads, and we've got some excellent ones in the Hinterland. It is hard work in the corners, but it is a very quick car and such a lot of fun.”

The TF's performance abilities are helped by a transplanted four-cylinder engine from the car's successor: the MGA. Buderim resident John Catlow spent six years restoring this TF 1500, and in that time put in the later 1.5-litre motor (now bored out to 1.6-litres) as well as the MGA's four-speed manual gearbox and differential.

“It will sit on 100kmh easily, and keeps up with highway traffic,” Mark said. “It is very low to the ground however, so if a truck comes past you it's scary stuff.”

With 1930s styling and unmistakable Olde-English interior charm, this TF is a delight to see still on our local roads, with Mark insisting his prized MG will stay with him for life.


Owner: Mark Parker, Kawana Island.

Model: 1955 MG TF 1500.

Details: Front-engined, rear-wheel drive two-door roadster built between 1953 and 1955.

Number produced: 9,600 (3,400 were TF 1500 models).

Engine: Transplanted 1.5-litre MGA four-cylinder bored out to 1.6-litres.

Transmission: Transplanted MGA four-speed manual.

Value today: $25,000-$50,000.

Did you know? The MG TF wasn't embraced wholeheartedly by the press or public on its launch due to 1930s styling and its lack of power. But today, many enthusiasts believe it to be the most attractive MG of all, and their high values reflect this.

For more motoring check out Drive.com.au.

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